You have an idea for a great picture book. It’s a funny idea. It’s so funny that tears of laughter run down your cheeks. You know this is the manuscript that will put your writing over the top, and you’ll soon be bringing in the big bucks. Go for it. Get that manuscript down on paper and get it out to the masses.
But before you begin on your laugh-out-loud masterpiece, here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind. There are elements in every humorous picture book that contribute to the humor.
Peter Pearson, the author of How to Eat an Airplane, knows humor. He suggests several ways it can be used in picture books. Humor happens when things don’t go together, when characters do unexpected things, when there is a unique premise, or when something totally unexpected happens. Humor also has to do with timing, pacing, and language.
With language, a variety of techniques can be incorporated into your writing to add humor. Think personification, alliteration, repetition, lively verbs, rhythm, rhyme, and onomatopoeia. Remember, too, that as a picture book, a child should be able to relate to it, and it should move along quickly with perfect page turns. And don’t forget to leave room for the illustrator to do his magic. Above all, your book needs to have some emotional level to which the reader can relate. It has to have heart!
There you go – tips for writing humor. They may sound simple, but simple is often deceiving. Get thee to a library and read all the humorous picture books you can find. In fact, read all types of picture books and then read some more.
Check out my last post for some examples of humor.